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US Unemployment Rate - A Look Back

US Unemployment Rate - A Look Back

Since early 2014, the US unemployment rate has seen a slow and steady decline. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in January of that year the US unemployment rate was 6.6 percent. Since then, the US unemployment rate has steadily been on the decline. 

In December 2014, the national unemployment rate was at 5.6 percent, marking the lowest unemployment rate since June 2008. Later in the year, the number of unemployed individuals in the United States dropped by 383,000.

In the first half of 2015, the national unemployment rate ranged between 5.3 and 5.7 percent. 

Effects of the Recession on the US
The negative impact of the 2008 recession on the US labor economy has been well-documented. During what become known as the Great Recession, many companies were forced to reduce employee hours, downsize their workforce or implement hiring freezes. Since that difficult economic period, many industries have recovered, with some industries working at full capacity.

Lowering the Unemployment Rate
Several industries have thrived and are likely to continue to thrive, even through a difficult economic period. The healthcare industry is one of the top markets for those seeking employment as Baby Boomers continue to age and require more intensive medical attention. 

In fact, the BLS projects that the healthcare industry will add the highest number of jobs among all industries. Between 2012 and 2022, healthcare jobs are projected to increase by 10.8 percent, which translates to 15.6 million jobs.

Industry Growth and Decline 
Additional industries at the top of the list of projected job growth include retail workers, office and administrative support professionals, food preparation and service, customer service and transportation, according to the BLS. On the other side of the spectrum are employment projections  that the BLS sees slowing down, including manufacturing, Federal government jobs, agriculture and utilities.  

The BLS projects the overall labor force participation rate is projected to decline from 63.7 percent in 2012 to 61.6 percent in 2022, continuing the trend from the past decade. Slower labor force growth is expected to limit potential economic growth, impacting the rate of growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) through 2022. 

Advancement in Technology
Another industry that is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down is the field of technology. Computer programmer  jobs should increase by about 8 percent by 2022, while software developers  are projected to see an increase of 22 percent by the same year. Engineers are also consistently sought after by companies around the world, with a higher than average growth rate across most of the sub-specialties. 

A fast-growing sub-sector within engineering is civil engineering, which plays a crucial role in the design and construction of large construction projects within city planning, including the planning of roads, tunnels, dams and bridges as well as systems for water supply and sewage treatment.